The tale floats on a tide of dark threats, double-crosses, abrupt changes of heart, revelations that characters aren’t as...



Whatever Rome police detective Nic Costa’s been doing in the unusually long break since his last outing (The Fallen Angel, 2011), it hasn’t prepared him for the ups and downs he faces when he goes undercover with the Calabrian 'Ndrangheta.

The gang leader who prefers to be known as Lo Spettro won’t say why he’s suddenly willing to give up his family to the Questura. But it’s clear that despite his offer, approaching him will be a dangerous proposition. So arrangements are made for Costa to masquerade as Tomasso Leoni, a “minor criminal” from Guelph, Canada. For all his efforts, the deal is still perilous. Although Lo Spettro’s daughter, Lucia Bergamotti, is clearly drawn to Maso Leoni, her brother Rocco is suspicious, territorial, and unpleasantly peremptory in his brutality. And the whimsically inscrutable Lo Spettro wants a sign of loyalty from Leoni before he delivers the goods: “You must kill and be seen to kill.” The opening flashes forward to 10 days later and presents Leoni executing Leo Falcone and Gianni Peroni, a pair of heavies sent to Reggio to tell Emmanuel Akindele, the Nigerian immigrant who operates the Zanzibar on behalf of the 'Ndrangheta, that he needs to take out an insurance policy on the dive bar, with the first payment due immediately. Could Costa have pulled the plug on even a pair of extortionists with so few reservations? If he did, what are the likely consequences, in and out of the legal system? And is it really true, despite the Bible’s assurances to the contrary, that “dead men don’t rise”?

The tale floats on a tide of dark threats, double-crosses, abrupt changes of heart, revelations that characters aren’t as they seem, and indications that the best-kept secrets aren’t secrets at all. Hewson does provide an excellent tour of “Italy’s toe,” which sounds both savage and strangely appealing.

Pub Date: Nov. 1, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-78029-106-2

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Creme de la Crime

Review Posted Online: Aug. 21, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2018

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Forget about solving all these crimes; the signal triumph here is (spoiler) the heroine’s survival.


Another sweltering month in Charlotte, another boatload of mysteries past and present for overworked, overstressed forensic anthropologist Temperance Brennan.

A week after the night she chases but fails to catch a mysterious trespasser outside her town house, some unknown party texts Tempe four images of a corpse that looks as if it’s been chewed by wild hogs, because it has been. Showboat Medical Examiner Margot Heavner makes it clear that, breaking with her department’s earlier practice (The Bone Collection, 2016, etc.), she has no intention of calling in Tempe as a consultant and promptly identifies the faceless body herself as that of a young Asian man. Nettled by several errors in Heavner’s analysis, and even more by her willingness to share the gory details at a press conference, Tempe launches her own investigation, which is not so much off the books as against the books. Heavner isn’t exactly mollified when Tempe, aided by retired police detective Skinny Slidell and a host of experts, puts a name to the dead man. But the hints of other crimes Tempe’s identification uncovers, particularly crimes against children, spur her on to redouble her efforts despite the new M.E.’s splenetic outbursts. Before he died, it seems, Felix Vodyanov was linked to a passenger ferry that sank in 1994, an even earlier U.S. government project to research biological agents that could control human behavior, the hinky spiritual retreat Sparkling Waters, the dark web site DeepUnder, and the disappearances of at least four schoolchildren, two of whom have also turned up dead. And why on earth was Vodyanov carrying Tempe’s own contact information? The mounting evidence of ever more and ever worse skulduggery will pull Tempe deeper and deeper down what even she sees as a rabbit hole before she confronts a ringleader implicated in “Drugs. Fraud. Breaking and entering. Arson. Kidnapping. How does attempted murder sound?”

Forget about solving all these crimes; the signal triumph here is (spoiler) the heroine’s survival.

Pub Date: March 17, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-9821-3888-2

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Scribner

Review Posted Online: Dec. 23, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2020

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Patterson's thrillers (Virgin, 1980; Black Market, 1986) have plummeted in quality since his promising debut in The Thomas Berryman Number (1976)—with this latest being the sorriest yet: a clanky and witless policer about a criminal mastermind and the cop sworn to take him down. Aside from watching sympathetic homicide dick John ("Stef") Stefanovich comeing to terms with a wheelchair-bound life—legacy of a shotgun blast to the back by drug-and-gun-running archfiend Alexandre St.-Germain—the major interest here lies in marvelling at the author's trashing of fiction convention. The whopper comes early: although St.-Germain is explicity described as being machine-gunned to death by three vigilante cops in a swank brothel (". . .a submachine gun blast nearly ripped off the head of Alexandre St.-Germain"; "The mobster's head and most of his neck had been savaged by the machine-gun volley. The body looked desecrated. . ."), before you know it this latter-day Moriarty is stepping unscathed out of an airplane. What gives? Authorial cheating, that's what—thinly glossed over with some mumbling later on about a "body double." Not that St.-Germain's ersatz death generated much suspense anyway, with subsequent action focusing on, among other items, the gory killings of assorted mob bosses by one of the vigilante cops, and Stef's viewing of pornographic tapes confiscated from that brothel. But readers generous enough to plod on will get to read about the newly Lazarus-ized St.-Germain's crass efforts to revitalize and consolidate the world's crime syndicates ("the Midnight Club"), Stef's predictable tumble for a sexy true-crime writer, and how (isn't one miracle enough for Patterson?) at book's end Stef walks again and gets to embrace a rogue cop who's murdered several people. Ironsides with a badge and a lobotomy.

Pub Date: Jan. 23, 1988

ISBN: 0446676411

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: Oct. 3, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 1988

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